Leadership involves many aspects and there is a list a mile long of characteristics that can be attributed to helping a leader be effective. However the true measure of a leader is defined during his or her life by the ability to influence others. The highest measure of a leader in a more far-reaching frame is the legacy of influence they leave when they depart from the earth. Given this, it is difficult to argue with the following:
Good Friday is the celebration and remembrance of the death of the greatest servant leader who ever lived; Jesus Christ.
You don’t have to be of the Christian faith to learn from the example set by Jesus (although I am), you just simply have to read the Gospels in the New Testament of the bible. Leadership is crucial to success in all areas of life that involve working with people. This can be related to mentoring a child, working for a company, leading a ministry, growing your own business, helping your community, or any other pursuit. The lessons in the bible demonstrate exactly how to be the best you can be in leading others.
From a practical perspective, think about what Jesus did. He mentored and developed a team of 12 people from all different backgrounds (most of which were not stellar resumes!) to go out into the world to share a message that few wanted to accept. He was only alive for roughly 33 years, yet what he began has grown to influence BILLIONS of people in the world. That is called legacy.
Again I emphasize, if you are not a person of Christian faith, do not let that be a limitation in learning for you. Read the bible so you can learn from the true master in leadership. I read leadership books written by people from all different faiths…as a matter of fact, I never worry about what the faith of the author is. I read the book, find a nugget and move on to the next book. The bible I read daily. In a paragraph about how Jesus dealt with people, I can typically find at least one powerful leadership nugget…essentially what it takes me an entire book to find from most leadership authors…I can find in one paragraph!
The leader’s focus is to serve the aspirations of those in the organization knowing that as they excel the leader will also.
I believe in and embrace the concept of servant leadership. This is what works for me, and is a joyful way to work and live. It has it’s challenges just as all styles have challenges, but the positives are overwhelmingly more than the downsides.To give you some clarity if you aren’t familiar with the servant leadership think of a traditional power structure, it is shaped like a pyramid with the leader at the top and then a descending, widening structure of leadership moving downward. The people serve the leaders and are there for the purpose of the leader’s mission. The people follow mostly because they have to (personal rewards aside).
In servant leadership, the people end up involved with the leader because they too are interested in the leader’s mission as well as having their own aspirations. However, in the servant leader model, the power structure is actually upside down from the traditional one. The leader is at the bottom of the structure and the pyramid of leadership goes up and widens from the leader. The leader’s focus is to serve the aspirations of those in the organization knowing that as they excel the leader will also. Most of the people who follow a servant leader do so because they want to.
Taking this to an even more practical aspect, when someone joins my organization, one of the first things I have to help them understand is that they don’t work for me….I work for them. They are trying to improve their lot in life and it is my responsibility as a leader to help them in any way I can (except doing it for them).
Anyway, Jesus modeled all aspects of the ideal servant leader, from how to handle people, to how to promote, to leading by example. Everything you could ever hope to learn about leadership is in the pages that detail the life of Jesus. I am thankful that Mike Foundos in Annapolis, MD introduced me to Jesus and the bible back in Spring of 1991. I have been studying the bible most everyday since. I owe much of my success in life to the teachings of Jesus and the other lessons in the bible. Everything you could want to learn about life and leadership can be found there.